Pre-failure Directives

By Jake Raby

Be proactive... If you find yourself in a reactive mode the job will cost more, will take longer and the repair could be equal to, or greater than the value of your vehicle.

Lets make something clear... The M96 engine has its share of issues and some can't be remedied without a complete tear down of the engine. These "engine re-constructions" are what our company specializes in; but frankly we are so busy that we can't help every owner of a failed engine. This is why it is very important that you understand the weaknesses of the engine and do whats possible to keep the engine alive as long as possible.

It is really simple, replace and upgrade what you can and the chances of misfortune are greatly reduced.It is true that every M96 engine begins to fail from the day it is first started, but that holds true for every engine in every car in the world. What makes the M96 different is the fact that many of the problematic issues can be avoided by being proactive with maintenance and applying some proven components specifically designed to counter the chances of failure. Doing this allows you to drive your Porsche with a great deal more confidence. This also helps to protect the investment that you have in your Porsche, and doing these things will significantly increase the value and "sell-ability" of your car.

Here, our direct experience has taught us what needs to happen and when.Also, remember that even if you baby your car, have it serviced very frequently and do all the things you are supposed to do; an engine failure can still occur! It is a fact that we see more failures from engines that have been driven slowly than we do from those that have been driven more spirited, or even raced extensively. Know that "taking it easy" isn't doing your engine any favors based on our direct experiences; we see more failures than anyone in the United States...So what should you do to help avoid the catastrophic engine failures that are so widespread??

First you need to identify what these are and then research these using tools like this website, Google and online forums that you can access through the "links" page of this site here. After you have a thorough understanding of the failures associated with the engine, you can understand our recommendations listed below much better.

Things to do: Upgrade the IMS bearing within the engine. This is first and foremost in overall importance as the IMS Bearing failure is the #1 issue that has killed so many M96 engines.

We are the Inventors of the IMS Solution, read more about it at Then have the same hands that developed it, install the technology into your engine, right here at Flat 6 Innovations.

Read more about the IMS Retrofit procedure and IMS bearing failures here

Replace the water pump, water pumps can fail silently and lead to cracked heads! Replace the water pump no matter how many miles are on your car, as time in service kills the plastic impeller blades of the pump, not miles!! Water pumps are cheap insurance, if a water pump creates a cracked head and intermixed coolant and oil exist the costs can be over 15,000.00 for repair

-Replace vario-cam wear pads and the 4th and 5th timing chains at 40K miles if your car is an 01 or earlier 996 or an 02 or earlier Boxster.

- Replace the engine's Air/ oil separator, its a cheap part that can keep you from going up in a cloud of smoke while cruising down the highway at 55 MPH.

- Don't become caught up in anyone's ploy to dictate the engine oil thats best for your engine. Over time other oils have been developed that we have found to be more superior than what the mmanufacturer would have recommended when your car was new. We have a biased opinion on this topic, so please don't ask us for an oil recommendation! We have worked with Joe Gibbs Driven Racing Oil to develop an application specific offering of engine oil just for the M96/M97 engine. Its called "DT40", so just buy it and know that it solved many problems in the development of it. Since 2006 we have worked to develop the best engine oil for our engines and until 2012 this wasn't offered to the general public. Each and EVERY Flat 6 Innovations engine is required to utilize this oil. The controversy related to other oil recommendations is something my company avoids completely. When you buy a new Porsche, they recommend Mobil 1, but when you buy my engine I'll tell you to avoid that offering completely.

- If your engine is more than three years old it probably has dirty timing chain tensioners, don't use engine flushes to solve them, have the tensioners removed, cleaned or replaced.

- Don't ignore engine noises or oil leaks, no matter how small they may be. Engines are not noisy, if they are noisy they have issues that could lead to catastrophic failure if ignored.

- Choose a proper facility to care for your Porsche and it's engine that is often misunderstood and not cared or properly

-Remove the engine's sump plate and inspect it for debris every 10,000 miles.. Also use oil analysis to help create trend data concerning the life of your engine.

- If you think you are having an engine failure STOP!! Shut the engine off and do not attempt to re-start it without it first being evaluated by an M96 engine specialist. Just because a shop works on Porsches, doesn't mean they are qualified to work on or that they understand your M96. Do not attempt to drive the car home or to a shop to avoid a tow bill, because doing so can cost you 15,000.00+ if the failure goes tick..tick..BOOM! Many of these engines are "driven to death" by owners who wish to save a 2-300.00 tow bill and end up costing themselves over ten thousand dollars or more. THERE ARE NO "GOOD" ENGINE NOISES!

-If you research the issues, update the components and understand the symptoms you can avoid catastrophic failure and enjoy your Porsche in the way it was intended for years.

-Don't ever think that "it can't happen to me" because it can and it does. We know what the strengths and weaknesses of this engine are from dealing with the same issues over and over again and seeing the same failures so often that we can diagnose failures over thephone in most cases. We'd be happy to help create a pre-failure course of action for your Porsche and apply updates as required for your year and model.

When its too late; it really is too late.

Jake Raby

President, Raby Enterprises Inc.




A very common issue that we receive calls about is "oil starvation" stemming from track activities. In this tech article I'll hit the highlights concerning "oil starvation" and also go over some myths that we have busted through our development.


First off the primary reason that engines fail on the track and are found to have symptoms of "oil starvation" when torn down is directly related to engine oil temperatures and the subsequent themal breakdown of the engine oil more than anything else.


Sure things like accusumps, larger scavenge pumps, X51 oil baffles and other "fixes" help bandage the issue the main issue is directly related to engine oil temps that can reach 270F while on track. We have datalogged temperatures even higher on super hot days at the track.


When we receive our routine failure call of the week from the person who has experienced "starvation" they magically never have the failures at the beginning of any track session as they always occur at the end of a session.Now, If G forces were the root cause of these issues as they are often blamed wouldn't we hear about them occurring at any point of a session and not just near the end?


The fact is it takes the majority of the session for the oil to get to the point of thermal breakdown and for the viscosity to drop enough for the failure to occur. This is why we NEVER hear of engine failures occurring near the start of any DE session. We also never hear of these failures occurring in Autocross competitions even with G forces HIGHER than most "big track" activities. I feel its directly related to the sessions being short and the oil doesn't see the temperatures high enough to start the snowball effect.


Remember: Your favorite "flavor" of over the counter generic engine oil might be a 10/40 or 20/50 but it's viscosity is measured at a mere 212F. What will the viscosity of that oil be at 250, 270 or even 290F? What if your 40 grade oil was less than a 20 grade when operating above 260F? Some are!


When operating your engine on the track it is being overworked just like a race engine. This is one of those situations where you need a full "race oil" to properly protect your "street engine". Race oils have a life span of less than 1,000 miles with their additive packages being depleted completely. True race oils make horrible street oils so those that are serious about engine protection aren't generally worried about cost or convenience. These people are paid dividends of longevity and reliability over their peers.


Basically what we have found is G forces are simply "the straw that breaks the Camel's back" on the track. Hot oil leads to pressure losses, G forces aggravate the issue and things scatter.


I won't make brand or viscosity recommendations in this tech article and please don't email me with questions like this. I simply wanted to stimulate your thought before going to the track for another hot summer of track activities~


Those that want to keep their engine alive on the track should couple a proper race oil with higher volume scavenge pumps, better oil control baffles and a higher volume oil filter. All of which LN Engineering and Flat 6 Innovations have teamed up to develop and manufacture.



Till next time....

The Engine Surgeon